11 May 2006

Latest Papuan asylum seekers held in Australian resort

3:24 pm on 11 May 2006

The three asylum seekers from Papua who are being held on Horn Island in Australia's Torres Strait are under guard at a three-star holiday resort, which is surrounded by security fences.

The editor of the Torres News, Corey Bousen, who went to try and see the men, was denied access to them and says he was told that any photographs which might facilitate their identification, would enable possible reprisals by the Indonesian government in Papua.

The Australian government says it wants to talk with Papua New Guinea about taking the three men.

Australia's immigration department says the men arrived at an excised offshore place and therefore may not make applications under the Migration Act.

In a statement it said that as they arrived from PNG, which is party to the Refugees' Convention, return options to PNG first need to be explored.

But Mr Bousen says it's the government would like the whole story to disappear.

"Without access to these guys it's certainly harder to keep this story ongoing - I think the government is quite aware of that. And that's why they do their best to make sure as little as possible newsworthy item emerge, such as photographs and backgrounds on people and that sort of stuff."